04 March 2006

New Realities

"Like a stop light... Red, green, and... BLUE," rambles my friend Jackie. "Yellow," I gently correct her. It's amazing sometimes to realize that the most basic, taken for granted things in life aren't universally known. Jarabacoa only has one stoplight, and it hasn't worked in years. So hou could I expect my friend from the campo to know? Constantly I am being surprised by these types of little realizations, such as finding out a friend doesn't know how to read. Even more fun are my friends' realizations of me. What do you mean you don't know how to cook rice and beans? wash dishes when there's no water? take a bucket bath?
Last week I was in one of those situations again... but luckily my friends didn't expect me to know. We went to Carnival (not in La Vega like I hoped, but a smaller one in Jarabacoa). How was I supposed to know that if you walk in the street you can expect to get smacked (and I mean HARD!) on the bum?! Like I said... my friends warned me, and I managed (narrowly) to avoid getting a "pela" (beating). Carnival is celebrated every Sunday in February, as well as the Dominican independence day - Feb 27th. They block off some streets where people dressed like demons prowl around looking for an unsuspecting person to smack. At the end of the afternoon, they have a parade with the new masks and costumes for this year. These will in turn be recycled next year to the kids prowling in the earlier parts of the afternoon. In La Vega, all this color, movement and confusion is accompanied by big name musicians. In all, it's a time for Dominicans and tourists to get out and do their favorite things: go out with friends, drink, and dance.
Now we enter the season of Lent, and I'm faced with more things I was unaware of. As the country is largely Catholic, many women observe the religous regulations. (Most of the men aren't religous.) This includes not eating meat on Ash Wednesday (last week, btw) and all Fridays during Lent. Although they were surprised that I didn't know about it, my friends also didn't expect me to participate in this "fast". But it's just one more example of the cultural identities that I am constantly learning and absorbing.


Pastor Randy said...

Hi Jess,

Well, it is a CONSTANT learning process, eh? Welcome to the Lenten Season, and though not Catholic, we celebrate the season here as well, fasting (No TV for 40 days, or no chocolate, or ???) it is a good way for us to enter into the "sufferings of Christ." But, in reality it's not much suffering. But it does cause us to stop and think.
Soent the evening with Krista the other night. Went to PF Changs, and talk about the PC and you, too! It was a Thursday night in WC and you're correct, everybody is out on that night. ;o)
I hear you're getting into your own place, sans electricty. Wow! Just purchased one of those headlamps from REI, They're really bright, maybe Krista should bring you one!
Most of all, I just wanted to remind you that we have not forgotten you, and I am praying for you often, and for all your new friends.
Blessings and Peace.

Clare said...

Hi. It is Matt's mom. I read your blog and enjoyed it too. It is good to get another perspective on the DR and the PC work in another area. The Flat Stanley pics were fun. I tutor two kids at a school that is doing that as well. Pics come from all over the world. Matt said that you work with the coffee growers. Wondering what you do in that regard. Blessings to you...be strong and courageous! Clare Ferner